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  • Writer's pictureErin

Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One

Marking the centenary of the First World War, Tate Britain's Aftermath; Art in the Wake of World War One gives an incredible insight into how artists dealt with the impact following one of the most destructive periods of our history.

On until the 24th, it's entering the final weeks, but I urge you to put some time aside and go and see this harrowing look into the minds of some of the greatest post war artists.

With a fresh look into the varied impacts of the Great War, this exhibition takes a look into how artists related and reacted to the physical and psychological scars that were felt throughout Europe, and learning to deal with them.

There's some really harrowing subject matters throughout the exhibition, and some epic pieces brought together from Britain, France and Germany; from the uncomfortable portraits of soldiers dealing with severe disfigurements, the unfair treatment of disabled veterans affected by the war, combined with the introduction of new forms of art coming from a very different inspiration subject.

Opening with William Orpen’s A Grave in a Trench (1917), the first few rooms look into the impact the war had on the landscape, through battlefields, scarred countryside and the urban areas left in ruin.

The first few rooms are dedicated to Remembrance, with highlights including The Passing of the Unknown Warrior by Frank o Salisbury and William Orpen's To The Unknown Soldier in France.

The exhibition takes a real dark turn from here with a move into the Traces of War and how soldiers struggled to fit back into society. The graphic series of sketches of badly wounded soldiers and their facial wounds causing drastic disfigurement, gruesomely described as "an alternative memorial, visible in the flesh rather than stone" to disabilities both mentally and physically.

Moving forward from the dimly lit, darkly painted rooms of before, into a light and airy exhibition space sees a look into the post war era through the landscape and society. The mood lifts with a shift towards rebuilding lives as well as the changing role of women, and into the period of reconstructing the new cities throughout Europe.

Look out for some incredible pieces by the likes of Otto Dix, John Nash, Pablo Picasso and Winifred Knights to name a few.


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